WHO WILL BE TCR UK’S KING OF CASTLE COMBE?
Castle Combe in Wiltshire can attribute many notable milestones in its near 70 year history, having stood the test of time and seen some of the greats of motorsport compete on its tarmac. This weekend, the circuit will write another important chapter into its history, as the BRSCC brings top-level contemporary touring car racing to the venue for the first time in its history. TCR UK marches on into the second half of the season, and it’s bringing a stacked timetable along for the ride.
With Daniel Lloyd now secure in his bid for the TCR UK title for the rest of the season, this weekend he will be hoping to extend his win streak to 8 victories from 8 starts. Last time at Brands Hatch, he had to do it the hard way, as first Ollie Turner posed a substantial threat in Race 1 before Carl Swift proved to be equally as challenging in the reverse grid for Race 2. Lewis Kent, Howard Fuller and Jessica Backman all took their first podiums that weekend too, while Andreas Backman and the two CUPRAs of Swift and teammate Stewart Lines will also be out to score their best results so far. Brace yourselves for this one, as touring car racing at Combe comes to life!
Taking up their usual slots on the support bill will be the two permanent fixtures on the package. The Mazda MX-5 SuperCup is back to Castle Combe for the first time since 2015, and it arrives with the championship fight looking closer than ever. The top three are covered by just two points with defending champion Luke Herbert topping the table ahead of James Blake-Baldwin and Jack Harding who are both tied for 2nd place. With other drivers also in contention for race wins like Jonathan Greensmith, Steve Roberts and Aidan Hills, plus a raft of other talented drivers who will all be aiming for the podium, the trio of SuperCup races this weekend look set to be intense.
Also heading back to Wiltshire is the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship, fresh from their recent trip across the Irish Sea to Kirkistown. On that weekend, it was a Team Dolan domination as Niall Murray swept to two victories while teammate Matt Round-Garrido picked up his second National victory in the other. Local favourite Luke Cooper should be formidable here this weekend, as should Michael Eastwell, Neil MacLennan, Jamie Thorburn and Joey Foster. After last year’s dramatic encounters, there’s hope the Formula Fords will put on an even better display this time.
Joining the regular support package this weekend is a raft of BRSCC and guest championships. The Nankang Tyres BMW Compact Cup gets its first taste of a TCR UK meeting by appearing on Sunday. There are four main championship protagonists at this stage as defending champ Steven Dailly looks to double up on titles, but back at the previous rounds at Cadwell Park it was Owen Hunter who stole one of the overall race wins and the points to go with it. Both are now separated by just 15 points, while Ian Jones and Matthew Parkes are also in contention, as they too also scrap amongst themselves for 3rd. The Compact Cup will be a perfect tin-top compliment to TCR UK this weekend.
Also in the mix will be the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship, where Adam Southgate continues to make strides towards title glory himself. He has effectively been the man to beat all season and it’s rare to see him anywhere other than out in front and on the top step of the podium. Doing their best to try and close him down will be Kevin Molyneaux, Nick Hull, James Coleman and Garry Lawrence, all of whom have race winning potential. It’s equally intriguing in the 924 class as points leader Hugh Peart dices race after race with Gavin Johnson, with the pair only separated by just 8.5 points.
Providing further single seater action are the Speed Group F1000, who will be posting some of the fastest lap times of all this weekend. These rapid little superbike-engined single seaters are real pocket rockets and while they do race hard and fast, they also do so in a fair and respectable manner. After a very tricky weekend at Rockingham, points leader Michael Watton will be bidding to get his title defence back on track, even though he still leads the points. Paul Butcher, Dan Clowes and more will be out to stop him, plus watch out for returning drivers Richard Gittings, James MacLachlan and former champ Lee Morgan as they make cameo appearances in a bid for their own glory.
Adding to the tin-top vibe of the meeting is the Teekay Couplings Production GTi Championship on Saturday. This series accommodates both the Mk2 and Mk5 generations of one of the world’s greatest hot hatchbacks, the Volkswagen Golf GTi. With the Mk5s now a point scoring class for the first time, the competition levels have grown this season with more to fight for. James Colbourne enters the meeting a point ahead of Simon Hill, but Hill’s absence will help him create a gap – unless James Howlison, Martyn Walsh, Adam Hance and more could put a halt to that. The Mk2 battle will also be fierce, with defending champ Chris Webb facing stern competition from Tim Hartland and Dan Gibbs this season.
Alongside the BRSCC content, the Sports 2000 Championship appears on the timetable with both of their Duratec and Pinto categories taking to the track at the same time on one grid. Normally, both race separately, but a combined field of almost 30 cars will be quite a sight thanks to Castle Combe’s overall high speed nature. Look out for a variety of sports prototype chassis in this race, including MCR, Van Diemen, Gunn, Lola, Carbir, Royale and Tiga all battling for supremacy on track together.
Plus, adding a real local flavour to proceedings are the trio of Castle Combe Racing Clubs, all native to the circuit and well supported respectively. It should be quite a contest in the Castle Combe Formula Ford Championship, with Josh Fisher and Luke Cooper expected to be the main pacesetters; Cooper has just about won every race this season, so he’s the man to beat. An impressive and varied entry in the Castle Combe GT Championship sees SEATs, Caterhams, Mitsubishis, BMWs, Ginettas and Mazdas all set to do battle amongst each other, while the biggest grid of the three is unquestionably the Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship. 38 cars are expected to take part with local favourites like Gary Prebble and Dave Scaramanga set to lead the line of VWs, Vauxhalls, Minis, Renaults, Peugeots, Citroens and a whole lot more. This race will see a very crowded track and lots of close battles!